BENGALURU: With more beneficiaries expected to be added to the State Government’s guarantee schemes in the coming days, the Finance Department has urged the Food and Civil Supplies Department not to allow splitting of BPL cards. This, according to them, will restrict the misuse of below-poverty-line cards. Karnataka has 1.2 crore BPL cards covering 4.4 crore beneficiaries.
Over 1.15 crore families are availing benefits under the guarantee schemes, especially Gruha Lakshmi and Anna Bhagya. Under Gruha Lakshmi, Rs 2,000 is given to women heads of families, while money for the additional 5kg rice under Anna Bhagya is deposited into the accounts of beneficiaries.
The implementation of the five guarantees will cost the exchequer Rs 55,000 crore annually. Since these schemes were introduced between June and August this year, the Siddaramaiah government set aside Rs 36,000 crore for the remaining months of the financial year 2023-24. According to Finance Department sources, the schemes have covered 1.15 crore families which cover more than 70 per cent of the population. However, some people with an intention to misuse the benefits, are seeking to get new ration cards from the same family by splitting from the existing card. This will lead to more number of beneficiaries, adding to the financial burden on the government.
“We have urged the Food and Civil Supplies Department to freeze new cards for family members whose names are already there in the existing card,” said an informed source. According to officials, since the financial aid of Rs 2,000 is used by those belonging to economically weaker sections, the beneficiaries are spending money on essentials, which attract 0-5 per cent GST.
Also, they buy groceries and other essentials from the neighbourhood shop and spend on non-branded items, which again have GST. “With such expenditure, the amount is not coming completely in terms of GST to the government. However, the purchasing power of people has improved which eventually pushes the economy up,” sources said. Meanwhile, Food and Civil Supplies Minister KH Muniyappa said the guarantee schemes have to reach genuine beneficiaries, or else action will be initiated.
G.O. TO PROCESS PENDING APPLICATIONS
The Food and Civil Supplies Department issued a government order on September 29, directing officials to process the pending 2.96 lakh applications for new ration cards. These applications have been pending since March 2023. Once it is cleared, more beneficiaries are expected to be added to the guarantee schemes.